we like: Colourpop Cosmetics

On June 22, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

After months of hearing good reviews I recently picked up a few things from Colourpop Cosmetics, an L.A.-based brand that focuses on offering vibrant colors and quality formulas at a relatively low price point, ex. $5 eyeshadows and lipthings, $8 blush.

colourpop cosmetics

The first thing that stands out about this brand, aside from the fun color range, is the texture of these shadows. They are powders with a creamy mousse-like texture, such that if you press down on the shadow you make an indentation. [One upshot of this is that they can dry out.] I haven’t had much time to play with them yet but essentially if I want intense color payoff I treat them as a cream shadow and use my finger to pat the color on, and if I want a sheer wash of color I treat them as a standard powder and use a brush. Either way, quite a friendly texture, and the shades I have are all quite blendable. Some aremore pigmented than others – note the swatches, which are all a single swipe.

colourpop cosmetics eyeshadow

Straight off I give them mega points for their metallics, which, when used wet or with fingers, come off as true liquid metals. I picked up one of the eyeshadow sets (because I wanted a couple of colors that were only available in the set, annoyingly), Mondays in Malibu, and a few loose shadows as well.

colourpop cosmetics mondays in malibu

colourpop cosmetics shadow swatches

Mondays in Malibu: Sand Swoon, Gecko, Snakebite, Mirage, Hot Tamale, Prickly Pear

I wanted Hot Tamale (rusty brown) and Snakebite (gorgeous coppery gold), though Prickly Pear turned out to be lovely (lavender-mauve with gold flecks) too. Mirage (pale metallic sage) pretty as well, though not sure what I want to do with it. The others are nice but not shades I go for, and will likely find better homes.

colourpop cosmetics shadow swatches

Animal, Get Lucky, Game Face, Mooning

From the remaining extensive offerings I picked these four, which would make a great little quad, I realize now. See what I mean about those metallics? And Animal, that desert flower shimmery peach/coral, is STUNNING.

colourpop cosmetics blush pegacorn

Matte blush in Pegacorn

I picked up the blush in Pegacorn, a pretty rosy fuchsia. This blush is not as pigmented as [most of] the eyeshadows (thankfully, otherwise one would need to be quite careful), and doesn’t seem quite as…dentable, but the pigmentation is uniform.  I was looking for an aggressive pink for summer and this definitely hits the spot. It has a powder finish with the added virtue of being blendable with fingers. If you typically prefer cream blushes, as I often do, this is the powder blush for you.* I apply with either fingers or a duo-fiber brush and get a dolly flush.

*Or just get the Chanel cream blush…which is so, so beautiful. Wonderful formula.

colourpop cosmetics lippie stix and liner

Toucan, Grind

Of course I had to try a couple of lip products, so I picked up one of their Lippie Stix in Toucan, a vivid matte coral pink, and a Lippie Pencil (creamy, really nice) in Grind, a bold plum. Haven’t had a chance to wear these yet but pleased with the formulas so far, which are creamy and pigmented. Holding out for the matte liquid lipsticks they are releasing next week, which seem very promising indeed (all you Stila Stay-All-Day and Kat Von D liquid lipstick lovers, you may want to investigate). [N.B. have since heard negative reviews about it being difficult to apply two coats of the liquid lipsticks…still kind of want to see for myself.]

colourpop cosmetics

If you want to pick up some brights for summer, this is a great way to do it: these products are solid value for the money.

Are any of these colors jumping out at you? When I saw Snakebite swatched I jumped right over to their site. Give me a true metallic gold and I’m yours.

x

worth it: wet n wild balmstain

On October 20, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

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Imagine my astonishment when I tried this $3 lip crayon (a meet-the-shipping-minimum gamble) and absolutely loved it. Slick, gel texture, uniform pigmentation but not so opaque as to be any kind of trouble, any kind of fuss, nice gloss level (not too high), moisturizing (not amazing but it’s not a farce to call it a balm, as with some we could mention), no strange smell…really kind of surprisingly great, and especially great for $3. This color, officially the Wet n Wild MegaSlicks Balm Stain Moisturizing Lip Color in Red-Dy or Not, is lovely, too. A warm rosy red that comes up a little more terracotta on me than it seems in the stick.

I’m often throwing on whatever lip thing in the morning and investigating later on, how it’s going, and this one was impressively present, still, a few hours in. I kind of made a face in the mirror, like, what are you still doing here?! It’s not like it doesn’t wipe off on things like your coffee cup, it does, there’s just somehow still some left on your lips for a good long while. I think it might actually stain a little! [Research not yet conclusive] Like no lip stain ever seems to be able to do.* And the cap clicks on pretty well! And hasn’t fallen off on me. YMMV but this ticked a lot of boxes for me.

*Work on this technology, industry, this is a gold mine.

Upshot: there are much worse things you could do with $3. On top of which they’re bound to go on sale sometime soon in a pharmacy near you. I may try some of the other colors.

 

in defense of cheap sunglasses

On April 2, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

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Just as I’m convinced it is worthwhile to splash out for certain items, certain categories of items, other categories I am more than happy to skimp on and buy as cheaply as possible. Others I like to have representatives from several brackets, so I’ve got a few options re: quality. Lipstick is a great example of this, and I think all kinds of makeup and skincare. I like budget as well as luxe options in most categories. While it’s nice to invest in a great quality lipstick, there are too many beautiful colors to choose only one (so I say), and budget options are one way to have that variety. It’s just the same with sunglasses. Just the same.*

*You know when you’re entirely convinced how fitting an analogy is, and keep seeing parallels that reinforce its strength and integrity everywhere? This is one of those analogies right now.

I’ve invested in a few pairs of what I would call good sunglasses; quality lenses, sturdy construction, versatile styles I can wear any time, all the time. [I’m talking $100-$200 range sunglasses. Though sunglasses can get much more expensive than this, I doubt the quality improves much beyond this point.] I’ve mentioned them before.

(parenthetical photo recap:

IMG_6578Vuarnet, Vuarnet, Spektre, Ray-Ban)

This is all well and good, but…you know…what about the other kinds of sunglasses? There are so many appealing silhouettes, and it would be a shame not to play with them. [Wouldn’t it?]

Enter dirt cheap sunglasses. I mean $10 or less cheap, $5 or less . Mayyyybe $15ish. That would be an indulgent pair of cheap sunglasses, if you follow. I’m talking eBay, tourist stalls, Chinatown. Cheap (but with basic UV protection still). I had a specific list of styles I wanted to have at my disposal, but didn’t want to pay much to have them there. The sunglasses equivalents of costume jewelry. I found these gradually over many long winter months.

The list

1. Gold aviators with orange mirror lenses
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Basically a Ray-Ban clone. Like the pair I already have but with mirror lenses…

2. Circular lenses, retro look

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I found one I liked, then one I liked better… A weird or distinctive pair of sunglasses instantly adds interest, even to the most unremarkable ensemble.

3. Wayfarers and close cousins w/ patterned frames and/or mirror lenses

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Variations on the Spektre wayfarer-style pair I have and love, some fresh options. Wanted clear frames like this with mirror lenses. Oh, and I have that pair with white rubbery frames. Where did I put those?

4. Audrey shades with tortoiseshell or burgundy frames (or cream)

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Because this glam oversized look is not quite ME but I’ve wanted to experiment with it. I don’t always want to be exactly me, anyway. I like the fit and look of these better than I expected, a nice surprise. I couldn’t decide between these two…(if looking for this silhouette, use the keyword ‘Audrey’ evidently)

I think [I concede] this got a little out of hand, and I have too many pairs now. I do really like that concept of having only one or two signature pairs that go with everything. Like a signature lipstick (see!), or perfume. But I don’t have a signature lipstick or perfume, either, so I’m really very consistent in this story. Another addition to the volume of unnecessary/dumb stuff I spend my money on. And there’s that comforting knowledge that I’m free to sit on them or lose them without it constituting a notable loss. AND, if someone really likes them or needs to borrow them, I can spontaneously give them away. I like doing that, now and then.

into: Japonesque Color

On March 21, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

Japonesque has long been a manufacturer of professional makeup brushes and tools, for their own brand as well as other high-end brands. An American company out of Northern California (a little over 25 years old now), the name comes from being inspired by the tools of Japanese Kabuki theater (and benefits, no doubt, from the association with Japan, where many sublime brushes are born). It’s a great brand to turn to to get the brushes of the quality that brands like MAC and NARS promise for a bit less (a number of companies doing this well now), and they have a good variety of shapes and sizes.

The general verdict on their makeup line, Japonesque Color (launched last fall), is that the quality of the formulas in the line are solidly good with the exception of the powder products, which are excellent. I realized I was in the market for an excellent powder. And a blush, maybe…

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Then of course I got a lipstick, too.

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Japonesque Velvet Touch Finishing Powder, Pro Performance Lipstick in Shade 7, Velvet Touch Blush in Shade 3

These powder formulas are indeed excellent. These are finely milled, which is key, and are of that new generation of powders that seem to melt into the skin, serving their function of mattifying or providing a smooth surface for subsequent applications without leaving the impression of a powdered face. Other examples include the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder and the Urban Decay Ultra Definition Pressed Finishing Powder (which I haven’t tried, but Sali Hughes gave it a glowing review). I also use and like the Rimmel Stay Matte powder, which is $5 or so and does the job it is meant to do, but these new formulas are in another league altogether in terms of transparency and lightness.

I use this as a transition product between the cream and powder stages of a makeup. Say I want to use a cream illuminator but a powder blush, I apply the cream product, swish some powder (with a brush*) over that area destined for the blush, and am able to apply the blush without getting uneven patches where the skin was more or less dry.

*Not a sponge, which I find applies too much product. These products don’t come with built-in brushes, which I like very much. Let’s all stop pretending I want to have anything to do with those.

The blush is my favorite of the lot, very similar in hue to the Bobbi Brown Pink Coral blush I like so well (fractionally darker), but with fine gold flecks that set it entirely apart. This is Shade 3, a rich cactus flower pink. I am, when browsing for makeup, like someone browsing paint swatches in a hardware store. It often comes down to a matter of color, a visceral affinity for a given color with a background check on the formula and a quick cost/benefit analysis to give the go ahead. I only partially succeed in my attempts to avoid shade duplicates, though I admit I am not always trying very hard, and alternate justifications for acquisition are a dime a dozen.

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wearing here

 As with the finishing powder it is beautifully sheer and light, and as with the Bobbi Brown blush it instantly brightens the face. The shimmer is subtle and fine, and I am for it. The formula is as beautiful as blushes twice the price*, and I think these powder products are offer great value for money. The lipstick I truly did not need, and it is good. It is not so mind-blowingly good that I would exactly recommend it at this price, but it is good. I took care to select a shade not yet represented in my stash, and I have no regrets.

*Though there are also blushes nearly as nice for half of the price, or a quarter of the price. And to be nearly as nice as something unnecessarily nice…is often nice enough. What I tend to turn to higher end brands for, beyond exceptional textures (drugstore and budget brands offer many great formulas now, and excellent ones here and there), is a compelling color range.

Then, a fan brush. I’ve been wanting a fan brush, you see. They are notoriously good at sweeping highlighter over the cheekbones. While it does do this, and is a great balance of stiff and flexible, for me it is mostly for show. Let’s face it, it’s beautiful. I’ve been hearing great things about this Eco Tools fan brush, too. The position of fan brush has been filled now but still kind of want to check it out…

[The other brush pictured is an angled kabuki-style buffing thing, a gift with purchase. It buffs. I like it, but I like the Real Techniques Expert Face Brush better.]